Book Review: Seven deadly sins: Constitutional rights and the criminal justice system

AuthorJason T. Carmichael
Published date01 March 2020
Date01 March 2020
Subject MatterBook Reviews
Lynch, D. R., Sween, M., Denniston, M., & Bayley, B. (2016).
Seven deadly sins: Constitutional rights and the criminal justice system. Durham: Carolina Academic Press. 424 p.
$53.00 (paperback), ISBN 9781611637366.
Reviewed by: Jason T. Carmichael, McGill University, Montre
´al, QC, Canada
DOI: 10.1177/0734016817753265
The scholarship examining constitutional rights is voluminous but much of this work is unapproach-
able to those without a legal background. The extant literature tends to be written by and for an
academic audience (particularly legal scholars) and tends to offer few detailed accounts as context.
In Seven Deadly Sins, Professors Lynch, Sween, Denniston, and Bayley (Department of Criminal
Justice, Weber State University) allow students from diver se academic backgrounds to take an
intellectual journey through one of the most critical issues in legal scholarship. They accomplish
this largely through the use of a writin g style that is both easily approacha ble and immensely
engaging. Lynch et al. offer the reader an in-depth look at how courts protect the constitutional
rights of citizens who are exposed to the criminal justice system. The authors pay particular attention
to what they refer to as the seven deadly constitutional sins: intolerance, subterfuge, intrusiveness,
cruelty, favoritism, craftiness, and subservience to authority.
In Seven Deadly Sins, the authors expose the reader to important tensions and nuances within the
U.S. legal system. The book is presented in a straightforward pattern that adds to the overall read-
ability of the text. Each of the seven “sins” is outlined in their own chapter. In each of these chapters,
the authors establish the ways in which the constitution strives to protect against violating a partic-
ular legal virtue (i.e., avoiding the “sin”) and how specific, legal case decisions have reinforced and
clarified these constitutional rights. After carefully laying out the legal doctrine on each of these core
values enshrined in the constitution and the corresponding case law in a single chapter, the authors
follow with a chapter that presents a set of case studies in the area of policing and corrections that
serve to illustrate the complexities associated with protecting the legal virtue being considered. The
reader soon realizes that few clear lines exist in the dete rmination of our constitutional rights.
Rather, these rights have expansive gray areas that appellate courts attempt to negotiate and clarify,
often by establishing decision rules for lower courts to adhere to.
The first chapter presents a detailed description of the constitution’s protection of unpopular ideas
or actions (i.e., tolerance). After briefly describing protections against intolerance found in the First
Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the chapter carefully outlines historical case law that provides
the boundaries of what is legally protected speech, media, religion, and assembly. Th e second
chapter builds on the first by presenting detailed case studies of how law enforcement and correc-
tions attempt to negotiate individual rights protecting against intolerance. The chapter deals with
timely and important issues such as how prisons process and house transgender inmates, the reli-
gious rights of inmates, and appropriate treatment of inmates by prison guards. Following the same
pattern, the third and fourth chapters deal with the constitution’s requirement that officials avoid
subterfuge (i.e., concealment, deception, and nonaccountability). After outlining important case law
establishing legal protections from the use of subterfuge by law enforcement (e.g., requirements that
officers inform citizens of their rights—Miranda) and correctional workers (e.g., use of jailhouse
lawyers), and the courts (e.g., an open jury selection process), the authors then present case studies
that are useful in identifying the boundaries placed on the ability of law enforcement to use sub-
terfuge. The fifth and sixth chapters deal with constitutional protections against government intru-
siveness. The chapters not only explore well-established protections against self-incrimination and
unreasonable searches but also deal with more current issues such as law enforcement’s right to
search digital devices such as cell phones, the use of solitar y confinement, and strip searches.
Book Reviews 145

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